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Emblem Collection of the University of Illinois

Books from the Emblem Collection of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Since the 1940’s the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library has been building a collection of emblem books written from 1540-1800, published in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and England. Emblem books can be considered the multi-media publications of the 16th through the 18th centuries. Each emblem is composed of three constitutive elements - a motto, an illustration or "pictura" in the form of a woodcut or engraving, and an explanatory poem or "subscriptio." An emblem is more than the sum of its parts, because the interplay between text and image produces a greater meaning than any of the individual components can provide. Since 1998 the Rare Book & Manuscript Library has been enhancing access to the German emblem books through digitization. The digitization efforts are now being coordinated with the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel. These two institutions are cooperating on the Project "Emblematica On-Line," funded by an NEH/DFG digital humanities grant to present emblem books in an innovative digital environment and to develop a portal for a key genre of Renaissance texts and images. The OpenEmblem Portal hosted at Illinois offers the ability to search and browse emblems from a variety of perspectives. Visit the German Emblem Book Project website.

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